18.73 – When relevance becomes irrelevant…

by September 14, 2012

Our age bombards us with irrelevant information. The attack on an embassy in Africa, a tennis tournament in America, an election in Europe: How much of such information changes what we need to do today? Or even the day after? Very little, except perhaps the information about local weather.

Never before in human history have people been fed so much information about which they can do nothing. Never before has the culture subjected people to life with an action/information ratio so low. Indeed, our society judges information not by its functional utility, but by its entertainment capacity. We have made relevance irrelevant.

Does this analysis suggest that we stay totally uninformed about worldly events? Not necessarily, though we could substantially decrease the time we give it without losing anything except perhaps the capacity to appear “informed” in pointless chit-chatting about irrelevant events.

The main purpose of this analysis is to help us realize that our culture has profoundly changed the way we look at information, a change that significantly alters our approach to scriptural information in two major ways:

  1. Superficiality in study: Because we are so habituated, even addicted, to be entertained by new information, we look for similar new entertaining stuff while studying the Bhagavad-gita. On not being titillated, we dub the Gita “boring.”
  2. Lethargy in application: Because we are habituated to not doing anything about information, we become lethargic about applying the information given in the Gita and so don’t get much tangible benefit.

If Gita wisdom is to empower us, we need to change the question that we ask while reading the Gita: not “what’s new today?” but “what can I apply today?” The Gita itself points to this approach by reporting (18.73: karisyhe vacanam tava) Arjuna’s determination to apply what he had learnt.



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